Accessibility and your Website
Why should you make a site accessible, and what does it mean for your web development project?
Accessibility supports social inclusion. For people with disabilities as well as others, such as older people, people in rural areas, and people in developing countries, accessibility best practices ensure that resources and content on the web are available to everyone.
There is also a strong business case for accessibility. Case studies show that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs, and increased audience reach, among other benefits. Accessibility overlaps with other best practices such as mobile-responsive web design, usability, design for older users, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
efelle & Accessibility
efelle Creative follows general common practices in web development and design, however, testing/auditing and development for specific ADA compliance is not something that we can typically perform for our sites unless it is explicitly brought up at the start of a project, prior to finalizing a project agreement. This is because there are many ADA compliance criteria to consider when putting together the scope for a website's design and functionality before web development begins. Considerations include topics such as contrast requirements for visible text and background, hidden content that require actions such as hover/focus, and the general layout of headings and content on a web page.
While no specific laws currently require accessibility on the web, we follow general standards that are established by the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). WCAG 2.1 has measurable success criteria divided into levels ranging from A (lowest) to AA, and AAA (highest). More A’s equate to more demands and design constraints, but better accessibility is ultimately met at that level.
While the highest level we can attain for most websites is AA, we can still meet some AAA guidelines where reasonable. Fully conforming to AAA guidelines is not recommended as a general policy for most sites, which is why we do not offer or guarantee full compliance at this level.
What does this mean for my live site?
By request, we can perform an audit of all pages on your current site and provide a Work Order estimate for any development updates needed to meet a specific requirement level. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are primarily the basis for our evaluations, and we will require that you specify the accessibility standards your site must attain before we can complete an audit.
Please note that we are limited to what and how we can test, as we cannot accommodate for all possible devices and screen reading programs that someone might use. Other restrictions may include how feasible it is to update certain aspects of the site's original design or functionality.
The average time it takes to audit a site could range from 30 mins to 2 hours, depending on the number of pages and custom elements it may have. Once the audit has finished, we would provide the findings along with an outline of any action items required to fix the issues in a Work Order with our estimated hours. You could then approve each line item you want to be fixed. It is up to you to ensure that your site maintains that level of accessibility over time. Of course, efelle can help you in these efforts by auditing your site upon request.
What does this mean for my future site?
The efelle team should be made aware of any concerns or desires you may have to meet ADA compliance prior to finalizing your project agreement at the start of the project. Our team needs to be able to accommodate how certain aspects of the design and functionality of the site are scoped out, depending on the required compliance standards. You’ll find some resources below if you’re interested in learning more about what makes an accessible website by request.
General Accessibility Best Practices:
Ensure understandable UX (User-Experience) for cognitively impaired users or users ages 55+
Try to avoid hiding content behind hover states. It’s hard for screen readers and impaired users to access this type of content.
Clearly label icons and their purpose. For example, don’t assume the user always knows that a hamburger icon = a menu.
Form fields should always have labels.
Interactive content should have focus and hover states (links, buttons, form fields, etc.).
Buttons and links should be descriptive and state the action or destination (not just “Read More”).
Don’t rely on color to convey information
Consider colorblind users when conveying information.
Ensure that the visual presentation of text and images has sufficient contrast ratio and that users with visual impairments are able to switch to a presentation that uses sufficient contrast.
Ensure that a sufficient contrast ratio exists between text (and images of text) and the background behind the text.
Be mindful of animations, parallax, videos, etc.
Some users need more time to process text. Ensure that animations do not move too quickly, or can be paused.
Be aware that some animations could trigger seizures. Allow users to prevent animation from being displayed on web pages.
All images must include alternative text
The use of alt tags allows screen readers to describe images to users.
If an image is missing, alternative text should display.
W3C Accessibility Standards - A good intro to accessibility, this page answers common “Why should we worry about this?” questions from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
How to Meet WCAG 2.1 (Quick Reference) - This guide allows you filter by specific responsibility (content, design, front-end development requirements, etc), and also by accessibility level (A to AAA).
WebAIM Introduction to Web Accessibility - Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) offers training and tutorials as well as resources for detecting accessibility issues.
Introduction to Web Accessibility - Another introductory article specific to the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).